Judson Harmon

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Judson Harmon
Jud Harmon.jpg
41st United States Attorney General
In office
June 11, 1895 – March 4, 1897
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Richard Olney
Succeeded by Joseph McKenna
45th Governor of Ohio
In office
January 11, 1909 – January 13, 1913
Lieutenant Francis W. Treadway
Atlee Pomerene
Hugh L. Nichols
Preceded by Andrew L. Harris
Succeeded by James M. Cox
Personal details
Born (1846-02-03)February 3, 1846
Newtown, Ohio
Died February 22, 1927(1927-02-22) (aged 81)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Olive Harmon
Alma mater Denison University
Cincinnati Law School
Profession Lawyer

Judson Harmon (February 3, 1846 – February 22, 1927) was a Democratic politician from Ohio. He served as United States Attorney General under President Grover Cleveland and later served as the 45th Governor of Ohio.

Life and career

Harmon was born in Newtown, Ohio. He graduated from Denison University in 1866. He graduated from the Cincinnati Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1869. Harmon was elected judge of the Common Pleas Court in 1876, but left months later to run unsuccessfully for the State Senate. He was elected judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati in 1878[1] and served until he resigned in 1887 to resume the practice of law.

He was appointed Attorney General by President Cleveland on June 8, 1895 upon the elevation of Richard Olney to become United States Secretary of State. Harmon served out the remainder of Cleveland's second term in office. Shortly after his appointment, Harmon urged Congress to fix some of the weaknesses in the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.[2] Harmon also issued the most explicit statement of what became known as the American doctrine of absolute sovereignty, that "the rules, principles and precedents of international law impose no liability or obligation upon the United States," in a case involving a claim by Mexico for damages from diverting the waters of the Rio Grande.

Harmon was elected Governor of Ohio in 1908.[3] In 1910, Harmon was re-elected for a second term as governor, this time defeating future President of the United States Warren G. Harding.

In June 1912, Harmon led the Ohio Democratic delegation to the Democratic National Convention which was being held in Baltimore, Maryland. At the Convention, Harmon was nominated as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.[4] Although nominated largely as a favorite son of the State of Ohio, Harmon found support from beyond the borders of Ohio and on the first ballot of the Convention, Harmon received the votes of 148 delegates.[5] However, since no candidate received the necessary 2/3 of the votes of the Convention, the balloting continued.

By the time of the 26th ballot, still no candidate had received the nomination for president, and Harmon's support had dwindled to a mere 29 votes[6] as the Convention tended to coalesce around the two leading candidates—Speaker of the House of Representatives Champ Clark of Missouri and Woodrow Wilson, governor of New Jersey.[7] Balloting continued beyond the 26th ballot and, finally, on the 39th ballot, with the support of William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson obtained the delegate/votes necessary to become the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.[8]

Following the Baltimore Convention, Harmon returned home to Ohio to serve out the rest of his term as governor of the state. Accordingly, Harmon left office in January 1913, upon completion of this second term.

Harmon County, Oklahoma, is named after him.


  1. Roseboom, Eugene F. and Francis P. Weisenburger, A History of Ohio (Ohio Historical Society Press: Columbus, 1967) 321.
  2. Nevins, Allan, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (Dodd, Mead & Co.: New York, 1933) p. 723.
  3. Roseboom, Eugene H. & Francis P. Weisenburger, A History of Ohio, p. 321.
  4. Link, Arthur S., Wilson, Volume I: The Road to the White House (Princeton, University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, 1947) pp. 447-448.
  5. Link, Arthur, Wilson, Volume I, road to the White House p. 448.
  6. Link, Arthur S., Wilson, Volume I: The Road to the White House, p. 455.
  7. Link, Arthur S., Wilson, Volume I: The Road to the White House.pp. 450-455.
  8. Link, Arthur S., Wilson Volume I: The Road to the White House, p. 458.

External links

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